Cooking Lentils? You’re Doing It Wrong!

How NOT to cook lentils

Put lentils and water in a saucepan, add salt, bring to boil, and cook for 45 minutes.

I’ll admit, I’m not the world’s best cook, I didn’t grow up surrounded by cooks – but I can sure tell you when I’ve managed to cook something wrong!

Peas, beans, whole grains, and lentils are supposed to be good for you. So I blundered ahead and made lentil mush.

Hmmm… definitely not doing this right!

Here are some details I forgot to consider:

  • Do not soak lentils before cooking.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then add lentils, and reduce the heat to low. Slowly simmer them. Start your timing when you’ve added them.
  • DO NOT add salt to cooking water; salt toughens lentils as they cook. Salt when the lentils have cooked.
  • Cooking times are specific to the variety and processing of the lentils. Cooking time also varies with the age of the lentil; fresher lentils have more moisture.
  • Add a squeeze of lemon or a teaspoon of vinegar after cooking, but before draining. It will liven up the flavor.
Variety of Lentil Cooking Time Recommended Use
Yellow Lentils – bright yellow skinless lentils 10 minutes Dips, soups, and baked goods, not recommended for long-simmering stews, casseroles, or clear soups.
Red Lentils – bright red or pink skinless lentils 10 minutes Well-suited for Mid-Eastern and Asian cuisine, good for purees, does not hold its shape if overcooked.
French Lentils 30 minutes Broth-based, herb soups and gently flavored hot or cold salads.
Green Lentils 30-35 minutes Good choice for chili, baked dishes, stews and hearty soups.
Pardina (Spanish Brown) Lentils 30 minutes Distinctive nutty flavor, perfect for salads and soups that will be reheated.
Black Lentils – tiny black lentils 20 minutes Mild flavor for delicately spiced soups and salads, use as a side dish with fish or chicken

Where to buy

Timeless Natural Foods, Ulm MT, or ask for Timeless Natural Foods organic peas, lentils, and grains at your natural foods market.